Back to Basics

Back to Basics
Posted on 08/11/2021
Student working in class

Metro Nashville Public Schools is releasing TCAP data provided by the Tennessee Department of Education that measured academic proficiency and growth of students in districts across the state, along with plans from Director of Schools Dr. Adrienne Battle to get back to basics to make forward progress and success for students.

What is TCAP?

Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) is the assessment tool used by the State of Tennessee to assess growth and proficiency among public school students in math, English language arts, social studies, and science. Grades 3-8 are measured in the subject areas of English, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies, while High School studies receive end-of-course assessments in English 1 and English 2; Algebra 1 and 2; Geometry; Integrated Math 1, 2 and 3; Biology; and U.S. History.

TCAP tests had to be taken in person at the school building during windows of time prescribed by the State and at the district level in the spring.

Typically, these tests are used for accountability both at the school and district levels, as well as for student grades during end-of-course exams. This year, due to the pandemic, school districts were notified that accountability (e.g., designation as a priority school) would not happen for schools or at the district level if an 80% participation rate was achieved. MNPS achieved an 85% participation rate among all students eligible for the various TCAP assessments. Similarly, MNPS did not factor TCAP scores into student grades his past school year.

How Did Students Score on Tests?

Statewide, there was negative growth in proficiency rates of students as a result of learning challenges caused by the pandemic. Due to schools being closed in March of 2020 for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, the last available comparable TCAP data is from the 2018-19 school year. Statewide TCAP proficiency overall declined by approximately 5%, whereas MNPS declined by 8% from 2018-19 to 2020-21. 

  • Literacy proficiency declined 6% statewide and by 6% in MNPS.
  • English II scores increased 2% at the district level.
  • Numeracy proficiency declined by 12% at the state level and 14% at the district level.
  • Science proficiency declined by 19% at the state level using 2017-18 data (the last available), whereas MNPS declined by 17% over the same time.
  • Social studies declined by 3% at the state and 5% at the district level.
  • U.S. History scores increased 2% at the district level. 

Where Do We go from Here?

While TCAP scores are not supposed to be used for district or school-level accountability for this year, they do give Metro Schools a barometer for how to measure progress in the coming years. District leaders have known for more than a year that academic progress would be hindered because of the pandemic by looking at MAP tests that were administered both online and in person over the course of the school year.

Ensuring Every Student is Known is going to be essential to helping students close learning and proficiency gaps in the coming years. During the first three weeks of the 2021-22 school year, teachers will be administering MAP and universal screening assessments to gauge the academic proficiency of students and to help identify any potential learning disability or losses that need more intensive interventions.

Using our Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS), there are three tiers for measuring student growth and progress, along with specialized supports for students with disabilities and those with higher academic achievement in need of gifted and talented programs.

All students in Tiers 1, 2, and 3 receive grade-level core instruction in reading and math so that all students are learning at the same grade level and can maintain progress with their peers. Academic interventions are provided during personalized learning time, which includes small-group interventions for students in Tiers II and III using district-funded intervention programs such as Lexia Core and iReady for reading and math.

Leveraging federal ESSER funding, the district is making investments in key strategies that will strengthen our core instruction and give students the individualized support they need, which includes but is not limited to: 

  • Fully funded high-quality instructional materials in Literacy. Full adoptions in the coming years in other content areas.
  • Professional development to ensure implementation with integrity of high-quality instructional materials.
  • Planning days for all staff in direct service to students to maximize teaching time upon return.
  • Full-scale Navigator implementation dashboard with weekly social emotional learning check-ins.
  • Fully funded advocacy centers in all elementary schools to address non-academic student needs in a timely fashion.
  • Personalized Student Dashboard to inform parents and teachers to help them make data-based decisions and adding timeliness and specificity to the MTSS process.
  • Significant school-based investment of ESSER funds to meet unique student needs.
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